Success in leadership doesn’t come from reaching the summit, the level that you are aiming for, it comes from the journey on how you got there and what you left in your wake - that’s the true measure of leadership success.
So, how have you been leading lately in the new world of Covid-19?
Is your team dispersed and have you had to lead remotely? How’s that going for you?
Are you leading the way you want to? Are you hitting boundaries or having issues that you didn’t expect or anticipate?
Leading remotely highlights the importance of the fundamentals of leadership and how making sure these are in place can help you navigate any situation.
In my experience of coaching, training and being a leader there are a few non-negotiables to true, effective leadership.
The most important leadership essential is to develop trust – without trust you do not have a team and you are not a leader. Without trust there is no tribe, no connection and no collaboration.
But trust is an emotion, it is a feeling, it is a sensory experience. You cannot tell someone or direct someone to ‘trust’.
Trust has to be built, it has to develop and when it does you have a true sense of connection with each other. You will help and protect each other – you will do things for others instinctively because you know that they would do the same for you.
This aspect of leadership is the fundamental beginning of creating a team, a tribe, a
community and without trust, you cannot lead effectively. Without trust you will have infighting, people will keep to themselves, protect their patch, they won’t share or engage freely with others and this leads to teams being siloed, imploding, not delivering and can negatively affect individuals.
Authenticity is about being genuine and true. You will instinctively know if you are being authentic to yourself and to others.
Being authentic takes courage and not enough leaders show their true, authentic self, because to do so is scary and may leave them open to criticism.
If you can genuinely be yourself, the way you want to be, show your own unique style, in the face of what others are doing around you, if you can develop self-awareness and stand up for what you believe in, even in the face of adversity and even if it means you maybe criticised or ridiculed, then you will see others wanting to be on your team.
Being vulnerable allows others to relate and connect with us. Connectedness builds trust and tribes. Be authentic, be true, be vulnerable, and know that it’s ok to say “I don’t know” - you do not have to have all the answers. Give it a try and see the difference it makes.
3. Protect & Develop
What I mean by this is that if you are a ‘leader’ you need to look after your team. You need to safeguard them from others - you know what I mean, there will be someone that is ‘coming at you’ or your team and you need to be the one to take the blow.
Even if they have mucked up or not delivered something quite right. You need to be the one out front, the one weathering the storm, the one steering the ship. Instead of throwing them under the bus, you protect them from the unnecessary criticism or sarcasm.
You filter the message so that it comes through clearly on what you want done differently next time and you manage expectations and explain the level of quality that you expect and want. But you do it in a way so they learn, grow and develop, not be deflated and feel berated.
You can and should hold them accountable, but you do not criticise publicly – not even in a team meeting, you do it one on one with the intent of them learning from the experience and doing better next time. If a whole team has failed, do a post-implementation review and see where the issue was – discover it and learn together.
Develop your team so that they can be their best, then you can delegate to help them to grow even further. That means you will have time to look at ways that you can develop yourself, because you know that they have got the skills to do more, which releases you to take on new opportunities, to focus on the things that drive you, that inspire you, that interest you.
Always develop your team – that’s how you grow too. Remember that old saying “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Create that tide, so you can all rise with it.
As a leader, you are their protector, that’s part of your job as head of the tribe. You need to set the vision, to bring the troops together and in order to do that effectively you have to be prepared to give yourself to that tribe, to the team that are following you.
You have to create a safe environment, a sense of belonging, and you do this by protecting them from petty internal politics and harsh, unnecessary criticism. What I mean by this is that they know ‘you have their back’ at all times.
By protecting them doesn’t mean they are not accountable. It doesn’t mean they get away with not delivering, not meeting deadlines. It is the opposite.
You develop them by holding them accountable, by setting clear expectations, timelines and agree deliverables, you empower them to make decisions, you teach them to make principles-based decisions, not hide behind rules-based decisions.
Encourage them to experiment and learn and when things go wrong, it’s about how you deliver the message and how you encourage them to learn from their mistakes and their experiences.
Be upfront! Tell them what’s going on, as much as you can – especially if you are leading remotely. Keep the communication regular, clear and concise – use plain English and explain what’s happening. If there is a change occurring and there’s no change in the change, tell them that. Tell them that today’s update doesn’t have any more information than last time., that there hasn’t been any progress since last time we updated you but that you’re doing what you said you’d do, giving them a regular update, even if there’s no further information to share.
Don’t leave a void in communication – if you do, they will fill it with their own imaginations and it will be ‘worst case scenario’ for them. You can stop that from happening with regular communication.
At times, there will be some things that as a leader, you cannot or should not share.
If that’s the case and you get asked a direct question, tell them you can’t discuss it.
Bang! You’ve just been transparent with them and they will thank you and trust you for that.
If you try to ‘avoid the truth’, avoid answering or give them half an answer they will not trust you next time, so be honest and transparent about what’s going on.
Do you take time to reflect each day? Or are you too busy running around trying to get things done? Are you creating a false positive of thinking you’re being productive because you’re busy? Busy does not equal productive.
Creating a habit of reflection allows you to look at your day through the lens of ‘double loop learning’. Looking at it from the aspects of:
You can capitalise on the things that are going well and you can review and amend your approach to those things that are not working, not progressing or just not giving you want you need.
Reflection is time well spent – taking 30 minutes each day – either at the beginning or end of your day – to reflect will allow you to learn from your experiences and approach things with new learnings and sometimes lessons learnt in hindsight.
Respect and treat others as you want to be treated.
Think about your career and who were the people in your life that you trust and respect?
Who is the best leader you’ve ever worked for or been around?
What made them great as a leader?
What traits did they demonstrate?
Now think about that leader that you couldn’t wait to get away from?
The one that every time you saw them you had a gut reaction, you wanted to turn away, you didn’t want to speak with or engage with them.
What was it about them that made you feel that way, think that way and see them in that way?
When you look back at your career, what do you want to see?
Do you only want to see that you achieved your highest goal?
That you got to CEO, you got to be captain of the team, you got to lead the church group – whatever your goal is, do you just want to look back and see that you’ve achieved that – even if it means leaving a trail of destruction behind you?
Looking back and seeing the disappointed faces of those that once followed you, but now don’t want to have anything to do with you?
Remembering those that you ‘stepped on’ to get to your goal? Those that you forgot about, pushed aside, took credit for their work or quashed their dreams so that you could look good or get that promotion?
Or do you want to be the leader that made a different in people’s lives?
The leader that lifted others up and that helped them be the best they could be?
Ask yourself these questions:
So, reflect now, reflect on how you are leading so far in 2020 – in these uncertain times, are you leading the way you want and should lead?
Or are there areas that you’d like to approach differently?
Are you leading yourself and your team to the best of your ability or do you
need support and assistance?
Through coaching and leadership development, I’ve been able to
develop confidence and help leaders build their teams. If you’d like to find out
more about this and to develop your confidence and ability as a leader, give
me a call.
Tell me about your leadership experiences, what has worked for you?
The current Covid-19 environment is challenging in many ways. We all react differently to change and with varying degrees of restriction from country to country and state to state and even regions within states, it can leave us confused and uncertain.
Our world has been disrupted and we don’t know what the ‘new normal’ will be like. This disruption has impacted everyone in some way. Whether that be a change in how we work (working from home; social distancing etc), or whether that be as severe as losing your job or coping in Stage 4 Lockdown, with restrictions on how often and how long you can go outside, right through to curfews being decreed.
With this disruption brings fears, worries, uncertainties about ourselves, our families, our friends, our futures. We are learning to live with this uncertainty like we have never had to before. During times like this we need to remember to ‘check in’ on ourselves.
I have been coping quite well during the Stage 4 lockdown, I accepted the restrictions and curfews, I abided by the rules and regulations, limited when I had to go out for essentials, stayed home, did my one-hour exercise per day and thought all was well. That was until the Victorian Government announced the extensions to the Stage 4 restrictions. When I heard it, I thought, “OK, I’m doing alright, I’ll be OK”.
But…. as the day went on, I found myself getting angry and I didn’t really know why. After all, I’d accepted that I had to do my bit and stay home so that we can get on top of this pandemic. So, I checked in with myself and delved a bit deeper into what was going on for me. I discovered I was angry, not for myself, but because I’m seeing all the small business struggling and I’m hearing the hurt and pain that they are going through because they cannot open their doors. I’m hearing about those people that have had to walk away from years of building a small business and the heartache that they are going through. That’s what I was angry about.
Now that I understand my anger, I can address the fears and worries that come with it. I can manage my emotions so that I am in a better position cognitively to make decisions for myself and how I can support the local businesses in our area.
But if I hadn’t checked in with myself, that anger could have manifested in different ways. A couple of weeks ago I write an article on Coping In Uncertain Times and I went back and read that and took my own advice. https://www.helenluxford.com/blog/coping-in-uncertain-times
The Black Dog Institute Research identified that previous outbreaks of infectious disease have been known to have an impact on mental health of the population, for example, the SARS epidemic was associated with a 30% increase in suicide in over 65s and 29% of healthcare workers experienced probable emotional distress.
This is indicative of what can happen and highlights the need for heightened awareness around mental health. There is research, advertising and discussion around physical health, weight loss etc every day, but how often do we actually talk about our emotional state, our mental well-being?
We need to start these discussions and get them to be common practice amongst ourselves. A problem shared is a problem halved and that saying goes the same for expressing how we’re feeling emotionally. Sharing your emotional state with someone else helps you express how you’re feeling and being able to do that can help you talk things through, get and offer support to each other.
It is normal to feel anxious, sad, upset in the midst of a pandemic. Each of us will experience different feelings and emotions but some common responses include:
Whatever you’re experiencing, focus on yourself, and not on others. Your response to this situation is right for you, acknowledge how you are feeling and know that it is a valid response. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, seek some guidance and support – think about what will work for you, to help you in this situation.
Mental Health Care Plan
Think of your mental health care plan, like your teeth. You brush your teeth once or twice a day and that keeps them healthy and stops you from getting decay.
Your mental health is the same, you need to nurture yourself on a daily basis. So, work out how you’re going to do that. What will work for you? I have discovered that when I’m feeling ‘foggy’ or ‘overwhelmed’, that going for a walk – even as short as 10 minutes, helps me reset emotionally.
Another strategy that works for me is doing 5, 10, 15 minutes of mindful meditation. There are numerous free resources available on the internet for guided mindfulness – here’s a link to some of them: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=guided+mindfulness+meditation+
Think about what works for you and then plan that into your day, each and every day. The more you do it, the better you will feel and the better you feel, the more you will do it, until it becomes your new routine.
As humans we are tribal beings and need to be connected to a community, whether that be your family, friendship group, community group, local neighbourhood – whatever your group is, stay connected with them.
Remember that this too shall pass, but until it does and until we establish what the ‘new normal’ is, please look after yourself and those close to you.
I’d like to hear what you’re doing to reduce stress during the pandemic, so leave your comments below.
If you’re struggling and need some support, please reach out to a friend, a support network, a community organisation (listed below), your doctor or call 000 in an emergency.
https://www.lifeline.org.au/ 13 11 14
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ 1300 22 4636
http://www.mensline.org.au/ 1300 78 99 78
https://www.kidshelpline.com.au/ 1800 55 1800
https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/ 1300 659 467
How are you coping in the current environment?
Everyone will have their challenges that come with a pandemic and the restrictions we need to adhere to and some of us will cope better than others.
We are in times of change, and whilst the world figures out the ‘new normal’ in a Covid‑19 we need to understand ourselves and our responses to what is going on.
Remember what you were doing this time last year? No-one could have predicted such a life changing event. However, here we are.
With restrictions differing from country to country, state to state and even locations within states, it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. One thing is clear, that we need to adapt and adjust as this pandemic develops.
So how are you coping in these uncertain, changing times?
We know there will be a ‘new normal’ but we don’t know what that will look like. Leaders in different countries and states are navigating unchartered waters and whether we agree or disagree with their approach, we have to adjust to what is happening.
So let’s have a look at how you can do that.
1. Remember that you adjust to uncertainty everyday
You may not have realised it, but you do. No-one knows what tomorrow will hold and you cope with small changes in your life everyday eg: you run out of bread or milk, the train or bus is cancelled, you’re stuck in traffic and you can’t pick up the kids, get to the meeting on time, the hot water service blew up, the power company cut your power accidently etc.
Remember that you have adjusted in the past, so you’ve got the ability to do it. We just need to practice that ‘adjusting’ muscle and build it up to cope with bigger uncertainties such as Covid-19. The Australian Health Department has some good resources to help strengthen your muscles to adjust during Covid-19. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/ongoing-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions
1. Look at what you can control
Humans like predictability, structure and routine. We’ve been thrown into new ways of working, or for some, not working at all. This is a bit adjustment, recognise this and allow yourself to work through how you can get some control back in your life.
Are you moping through each day and feeling sad?
Do you have a routine?
Set up a daily routine, like you had pre-Covid-19. Get up at the same time each day, have a morning routine, breakfast, shower, exercise? Whatever it is for you – make it a routine that you do each morning.
If you’re still working and working from home – with or without kids at home, set up structure and routine around working and home schooling the kids.
Have dedicated time that you focus on one thing – either work or teaching the kids – not both at the same time.
Schedule in breaks – if possible, go outside and smell the air, hear the birds, feel the breeze on your face and the sun on your cheeks. Do something that emulates what you would have done before the restrictions were in place.
2. Evaluate your situation
Are things really as bad as you think they are? Are you making assumptions and then catastrophising about what ‘might’ happen?
In times of uncertainty our subconscious mind can become very active and influence our decision-making processes. Check in with yourself.
Now evaluate what’s on your list and how much you believe it will or won’t happen.
Look at what you’ve written down and notice if there are things on that list today, that you wouldn’t have thought of a year ago?
Have any of these assumptions come true?
Are there any on there that you want to reconsider your scores?
3. Self Care
During times of change we will have set-backs, that is normal. But it’s how you handle those set-backs that is important.
Recognise where you’re at and if you’re not at your best, work out what strategies you can do to lift yourself up just a little bit.
Practice this when you are overwhelmed and increase it to 5 seconds, then 6 and see how it helps you rebalance. https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing
Getting outside is important, especially if you don’t have a garden to sit in. Get outside and feel nature around you. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/ongoing-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19/exercising-and-staying-active-during-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions
Remember there are some great organisations out there that you can reach out to - see the links below. You can also engage a coach or hypnotherapist to help you.
Take care and stay safe.
Helen brings a wealth of experience gained over 20 years in Human Resources in Australia and overseas.
Images by JKO
Copyright © 2017 Helen Luxford & Corporate Leadership Coaching - All Rights Reserved